One of the greatest soccer players of all time, and one of two women on the FIFA 100
"Michelle Akers is an American former soccer player, who starred in the historic 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup victories by the United States. She won the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the 1991 tournament.
Akers is regarded as one of the greatest female soccer players of all time. She was named FIFA Female Player of the Century in 2002, an award she shared with China's Sun Wen. In 2004, Akers and Mia Hamm were the only two women named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players selected by Pelé and commissioned by FIFA for that organization's 100th anniversary. Akers is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame; she was inducted in 2004, along with Paul Caligiuri and Eric Wynalda.
Born to Robert and Anne Akers in Santa Clara, California, Akers grew up in the Seattle, Washington suburb of Shoreline, where she attended and played soccer for Shorecrest High School. She was named an All-American three times during her high school career. At 5 feet, 10 inches in height and 150 pounds, Akers had an imposing physical presence on the soccer field and was noted for her aggressive and physical style of play. Akers learned to play soccer by playing with the boys around the neighborhood.
Akers attended the University of Central Florida on a scholarship where she was selected as four-time NCAA All-American. She was Central Florida's Athlete of the Year in 1988–89, the all-time leading scorer in UCF history, won the Hermann Trophy in 1988, and had her #10 jersey retired by the school.
Akers was a member of the 1985 United States women's national soccer team for its first game at a tournament in Italy in August 1985. Due to an ankle injury, she did not play in the first game. However, in the second ever international game for the United States she scored the first goal in the history of the program against Denmark, in a 2–2 tie.
Akers scored 15 goals in 24 games for the U.S. from 1985 to 1990 before scoring a team record 39 goals in 26 games in the 1991 season alone. In 1990 and 1991 she was named the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Female Athlete of the Year. Akers was also the lead scorer in the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup in China in 1991, scoring ten goals, including five in one game. This led the U.S. women's team to the first women's world championship, defeating Norway 2–1. Akers scored both goals in the finals.
Utterly exhausted after the World Cup, Akers was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome in the spring of 1994 which could have started in late 1991 and of which she never fully recovered. She learned to manage her diet and training habits, and was shifted to the midfield in part to minimize the beatings doled out by opposing defenders. Despite the precautions, Akers suffered a concussion and a knee injury early in the 1995 World Cup, and was hampered by the knee in a semifinal loss to Norway.
In 1996, Akers was again a member of the U.S. women's national team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where it won the gold medal. She was also a member of the gold-medal-winning, 1998 Goodwill Games team. On June 7, 1998, she was awarded the FIFA Order of Merit, their highest honor, for her contributions to the game of soccer. Akers again was part of the 1999 Women's World Cup team, leading to a second World Cup championship.
Shortly before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Akers retired from the game as the U.S. national team's second all-time leading scorer (behind Mia Hamm) with 105 goals, 37 assists and 247 points.
Michelle Akers competed as a member of USA teams in three FIFA Women's World Cup: China 1991, Sweden 1995 and USA 1999; and one Olympics: Atlanta 1996; played in 18 matches and scored 13 goals at those four global tournaments. Akers was a goal medalist at Atlanta 1996 Olympics, and world champion at China 1991 and USA 1999 world cup tournaments. Akers with team USA finished third at Sweden 1995 world cup.
Since her retirement, she has continued to promote the game of soccer and has written several books, including one that documents her battle with chronic fatigue syndrome." (1)